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The Outcome: The First Team Meeting


In this fortnightly series, John Copeman uses the example of fictitious company All Filters International to demonstrate how to get the most out of coaching for your organisation. This week he attends an important meeting of the sales team. JC is also offering a free coaching by email service. The series involves 15 emails that will help you become your own life coach. To take part or if you have any questions for JC send an email to [email protected].

I arrived at the office on the 12th at 9pm and met with head of EMEA sales and distribution for All Filters International Bill Proctor. “Morning JC,” he said with the kind of smile I would imagine Santa would have when he was getting the presents ready for delivery. “Just getting my speech ready for the awards, I really enjoy rewarding people for work well done,” he said. I put my laptop case down and headed out for the main coffee machine.

Having thanked administration manager Trudy Bradshaw for sending over some notes to me and after I had said hello to a few people I headed back to Bill’s office. Bill was not there and nor was his PA Shelia. I opened my laptop and opened my mind mapping software. Took a quick refresher of my notes, and then headed for the meeting room.

Shelia and Bill were busy checking the projector and Bill’s slides when I got there. “Mind if I sit myself somewhere at the back where I can plug the laptop into the mains Bill,” I asked. “Wherever you’re comfortable JC. I have changed the agenda slightly to give you 20 minutes to introduce yourself and the coaching programme after coffee at 11:15am. Is that ok with you?” Bill asked. “They have all been told officially already, and are aware that they need to be prepared to make time in their diaries for you over the next few weeks, but I thought this was a perfect opportunity to meet you in person.”

The meeting started on time, although one sales person, Trisha Barrett, did not arrive until about 10:45am. Judy told me that Trudy arrived a little late to the meetings, as she always drove up from Cornwall on the morning of the meetings rather than staying over the night before. I made a note to discuss this with Bill after the meeting.

I introduced myself after coffee, and spoke to them about success coaching, what my aims were, and shared with them some of my history and other clients. I fielded a few questions. The mood was enthusiastic, although I sensed a little scepticism from certain quarters, but this is to be expected with any potential change.

The rest of the day went much as expected with the forecasting being a mix of well considered and planned reporting, to forecasts that were giving what the management wanted to hear, rather than honest figures.

I made my notes as I went along, in preparation for the individual coaching sessions to come. I had also placed myself at the back of the room for a very important reason. With everyone watching the front of the room, I was able to watch body language and listen to the little chats, jokes and conversations without being observed for most of the time. In preparation for coaching, it is critical to find out ‘where we are’, and to be able to watch the internal hierarchies etc. It is also fascinating to watch the reactions of others when the awards were given.

During the plans for 2006, Bill proposed a growth figure of 20% as the goal for the division as a whole, and tasked the department heads to put their business plans together to achieve this within four weeks. While nobody verbally challenged Bill on this, there were some interesting signals being given in body language, as to what certain people felt about their impending targets.

The rest of the meeting went well, and finished on a lively note, with people saying their goodbyes and making for their cars for (in some cases) the long drive home. I had noticed that from about 3:30pm, Trisha Barrett and checked her watch at least four times, and as we neared 4pm, she had packed all of her things away ready for the off.

I spent some time with Trudy as people left the meeting, and then an hour with Bill from 5pm suggesting my approach for the following coaching sessions, and clarifying a few points.

I asked Bill if it was okay for me to schedule my first session for the following week, and if we could keep in touch by telephone weekly, with scheduled meetings every fortnight for a thorough update. We agreed and organised our diaries. “Fantastic JC, let’s get this year and this growth on the road” said Bill enthusiastically as he shook my hand. “Let’s exceed our own expectations,” I said. I left the office, and made my notes in about who I wanted to make appointments with first.

    Key Points:
  • Never lose sight of your true outcome throughout observations and planning.

  • Consider carefully the order in which you plan your approach.

  • Always try to have some time observing the people you are going to coach, acting naturally within their work environment, and within their internal hierarchies.

  • Notes are your key, so make sure that all your notes flow as your understanding grows. Make sure you have an audit trail on your thinking and learning.

* Catch up with all instalments of The Outcome, including a profile of John Copeman at here.


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